5 Cloud Computing Vulnerabilities Hackers Love to Exploit
By The Fullstack Academy Team
Over the last several years, cloud computing has become a popular tool for businesses of all industries and sizes. Cloud computing is on-demand access via the Internet to IT resources saved in a remote database. With greater accessibility and enhanced collaboration, it’s no surprise that 40% of the 1,900 global tech and business leaders surveyed by Google plan to increase their use of the cloud.
While the cloud offers many benefits for businesses, such as reduced server equipment and costs and increased employee flexibility, it’s also a prime target for hackers. There was a 95% increase in cloud exploitation in 2022, according to cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike.
To adequately protect yourself and your business from cloud attacks, it’s essential to understand what cloud computing hackers look for. Read on to learn more about the strategies and tactics hackers use and what vulnerabilities make you more susceptible to a cloud attack.
Types of Cloud Computing Attacks
Before discussing common cloud computing vulnerabilities, it’s important to understand the tactics hackers use. These include:
Injection of Cloud Malware: With these attacks, cloud computing hackers will inject malicious software, like ransomware, into the cloud computing environment. Hackers can then steal or destroy data and resources.
Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks (DDoS): These cyber attacks use multiple devices to overwhelm the target with a large amount of traffic. This crashes the host or network to prevent access.
Account Hijacking: This is one of the most common cyber attacks, where hackers will gain access to the cloud through a legitimate user account by stealing credentials or using password-cracking techniques.
What Are Common Vulnerabilities to Cloud Computing?
Now that you understand some common strategies cloud hackers use, you need to know what vulnerabilities they try to exploit. Here are some common cloud vulnerabilities that could make your organization a prime target for a cloud computing attack.
One of the leading causes of cyber attacks with cloud computing is misconfiguration,
which causes security gaps and leaves sensitive information unprotected. Cloud misconfigurations can take many forms but are often caused by oversight, misconceptions, or having too many systems to govern.
Here are a few ways you can minimize cloud misconfigurations:
Perform regular misconfiguration audits to identify gaps before they become a problem. Many cloud vendors will have security tools that can identify misconfigurations.
Implement automated solutions that can easily monitor and notify you of misconfiguration issues.
Enable encryption to protect sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
Poor Access Management
Access management is a crucial component of any cybersecurity strategy, as it helps ensure that only authorized individuals have access to specific data or environments. Despite its importance, many companies are experiencing data breaches due to poor access management. According to Cybersecurity Dive, roughly 3 out of 5 cloud compromises during Q1 of 2023 were linked to poor access management.
Luckily, there are many ways to improve access management. Some strategies include:
Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) and enforcing a strong password policy to minimize the chance of hackers getting in.
Regularly auditing employee accounts for signs of fraudulent activity.
Establishing a zero-trust policy to ensure user verification before accessing sensitive company information.
Use the Principle of Least Privilege to ensure individuals can only access documents and information that are absolutely necessary for their role.
Application Programming Interfaces, more widely known as APIs, help two software applications communicate. Due to the increased adoption of cloud computing, APIs are used more widely today than ever. When developing APIs, factors like speed and functionality are prioritized over security, making them prime targets for hackers.
To minimize the chances of a cybersecurity attack, here are a few tips for securing your APIs:
Implement strong authentication and authorization measures around API access.
Use SSL/TLS certificates to ensure all data is kept safe.
Make sure logging is enabled to maintain visibility into user activity.
Regularly update APIs so you always have the latest security features.
Lack of Visibility
According to the 2023 Thales Cloud Security Study, 79% of security professionals have multiple cloud providers. This creates a complex environment that can make it difficult to have complete visibility and increases security risks. A lack of visibility can impact your ability to respond to cyber incidents quickly, allowing cyber attackers to cause significant damage easily.
Even with multiple cloud providers, there are ways you can improve visibility. Some strategies include:
Taking a complete asset inventory to understand and evaluate the risk of each component in the cloud environment.
Enabling a monitoring tool to track activity across multiple cloud environments.
Feed cloud logs into an SIEM to detect and audit events that have occurred.
Human Error or Negligence
The Thales study also revealed that many believe user error is a leading cause of cloud data breaches. People can pose a security risk by falling for phishing scams, having weak passwords, or lacking cloud security knowledge in general. Since the cloud is accessible from virtually anywhere, there’s also a risk of insider threats. Disgruntled employees can attempt to steal and share sensitive data.
Here are a few strategies that can help prevent human error or negligence from becoming a significant security problem:
Provide constant training on good cloud security practices and send out regular behavior tests and surveys to identify gaps in knowledge.
Develop security standards and procedures so people know how to protect themselves from an attack.
Follow the Principle of Least Privilege and immediately revoke cloud access from employees who are no longer with the company.
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Best Practices for Protecting Against Cloud Computing Attacks
Besides the strategies that guard you against specific threats, here are some general best practices for securing your cloud environment from hackers:
Gain cloud computing skills: To thoroughly protect the cloud, you must have a specialized set of skills. Consider enrolling in a tech bootcamp or training program to become a professional in cloud computing.
Manage user access: Ensure authorized users are the only ones able to access the cloud. Additionally, ensure users only have access to data and other necessary information.
Implement training programs: Conduct regular training to ensure everybody using the cloud knows the steps they need to take to keep it secure.
Scan and test regularly: Periodically check cloud configurations to identify any gaps in security before an attack happens.
Encrypt sensitive data: Encryption will help keep your data safe even during a breach.
Use good cybersecurity hygiene: Use strong passwords and MFA to protect all data.
Protect Your Organization From Cloud Computing Attacks
A properly secured cloud environment can help give companies a competitive edge. As a cloud computing professional, it’s important to have the right skills, knowledge, and experience to implement best practices and protect your organization from cloud attacks.
The live online Fullstack Academy Cloud Computing Bootcamp can equip you with the technical knowledge needed to effectively utilize cloud technologies and ensure organizational security. Ready to dive into the world of cloud computing? Apply now!